Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



WATER WORLD
Wave of dead sea creatures hits Chile's beaches
By Giovanna FLEITAS
Santiago (AFP) May 4, 2016


Sea stars bounce back after US west coast die-off
Miami (AFP) May 4, 2016 - Sea stars, commonly known as starfish, have begun to bounce back after a massive die-off caused by a virus along the US west coast in 2013 and 2014, researchers said Wednesday.

The outbreak of sea star wasting, which made the animals melt and die, affected 20 different species from Baja California to Alaska, making it "one of the largest epidemics in a marine ecosystem in recorded history," said the study in the journal PLOS ONE.

The disease struck Oregon hard, arriving in April 2014 and spreading along most of the coast by June, infecting about 90 percent of sea stars, said the study led by Bruce Menge from Oregon State University.

Researchers tracked the dieoff, performing nearly 150 surveys of rocky intertidal habitats at nine sites along the Oregon coast between spring 2014 and fall 2015.

They found that about 80 percent of the populations died at the study sites.

The epidemic took root in cool water temperatures, driven by summer upwelling, and disproportionately affected adult sea stars and those that lived in tide pools, according to the report.

But by spring 2015, the sea star population began to recover by leaps and bounds.

"Study sites had up to 300 times as many new sea stars as in 2014," said the report.

"This recovery may be due to the increased availability of small prey, like mussels, resulting from the previous year's sea star loss."

Menge said the fact that sea stars off Oregon died during cooler, not warmer temperatures, suggests that a variety of factors were at play in driving the epidemic.

"Although up to 84 percent of local populations died, a massive recruitment of sea stars occurred the following spring, suggesting the possibility of rapid recovery," he said.

Heaps of dead whales, salmon and sardines blamed on the El Nino weather phenomenon have clogged Chile's Pacific beaches in recent months.

Last year, scientists were shocked when more than 300 whales turned up dead on remote bays of the southern coast, the first in a series of grim finds.

At the start of this year, a surge in algae in the water choked to death an estimated 40,000 tons of salmon in the Los Lagos region, where the Andes Mountains tower over lakes and green farming valleys down to the coast.

That represents around 12 percent of annual salmon production in Chile, the world's second-largest producer of the fish after Norway.

This month, some 8,000 tons of sardines washed up at the mouth of the central Queule River while thousands of dead clams piled up on the coast of Chiloe Island.

The authorities blamed a "red tide" of algae and banned fishing in the affected region, putting thousands of fishermen out of work.

Hundreds of angry fishermen and their families have blocked the roads onto Chiloe from the mainland with burning tires since Monday, demanding the government increase the $150 monthly grants it has given them to cope with the emergency.

"Who can live on 100,000 pesos?" protest leader Zoila Bustamante said Wednesday. "What a joke!"

Although southern Chile sees red tides every year, this year's extended further north than usual, Jorge Navarro of the marine institute IDEAL said.

"It affected bivalve populations (such as clams) that had never before been exposed like this" to the algae, he said.

On the shores of Santa Maria Island off the center of Chile's long coast, cuttlefish have washed up dead in the thousands.

Various beaches in the center of the country were closed, meanwhile, as specimens of the dreaded Portuguese Man-of-War jellyfish, normally foreign to the area, floated nearby.

- Shifting oceans -

Scientists largely blame the anomalies on El Nino, a disruptive weather phenomenon that warms sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific.

With its 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) of Pacific coastline, Chile is particularly exposed to the effects of El Nino, which strikes every few years.

"We think that a common factor in the deaths of creatures in southern Chile, in the salmon farms and in fish off the coast is the El Nino phenomenon," the Chilean fisheries institute IFOP said in a statement to AFP.

The current El Nino "has been classed as one of the most intense in the past 65 years," it added.

Warmer sea water can lead to greater quantities of algae, which kill other species by consuming oxygen in the water or filling it with toxins.

"The Chilean ocean is shifting and changing," said Sergio Palma, an oceanographer at Valparaiso Catholic University.

"There has been a series of events that indicate an El Nino which is making its presence felt in many ways."

- Fish farming impact -

But scientists also suspect other causes for the mass destruction of sea creatures.

The huge toll of whales last year "could be caused by a natural ecological process" that may be nothing to do with what killed the sardines and clams, said Laura Farias, an oceanographer at Concepcion University.

"There is no ecological, oceanographic or climatic explanation" linking the whales to the other incidents, she said.

She suspects the growth of fish farming in Chile's southern Patagonia region is to blame for killing the salmon and clams.

"There are studies indicating that in Patagonia, the greater occurrence of toxic blooms could be a consequence of aquaculture."

Various scientists have said the current El Nino seems to be subsiding, causing the sea's surface to slowly cool.

The mass destruction of sea life has provided a wake-up call, however.

"Chile still lacks information about the sea," said Valesca Montes, a fisheries specialist at the Chilean branch of the World Wildlife Fund.

"It has to invest in oceanographic studies, so that we can predict certain events" and better prepare for climate change.


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
WATER WORLD
Coral 'toolkit' allows floating larvae to transform into reef skeletons
Honolulu HI (SPX) Apr 29, 2016
In a study published this week, researchers from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa (UHM), Rutgers University, and the University of Haifa identified key and novel components of the molecular "toolkit" that allow corals to build their skeletons (called biomineralization) and described when - in the transformation from floating larvae to coral skeleton - these components are used. Corals ar ... read more


WATER WORLD
Chile quake at epicenter of expanding disaster and failure data repository

Kenya building collapse toll rises to 21

Personal cooling units on the horizon

Workers feeling the heat as climate change slashes productivity: report

WATER WORLD
Exploring phosphorene, a promising new material

It takes more than peer pressure to make large microgels fit in

Folding molecules into screw-shaped structures

Augmented games can increase the diversity of sports

WATER WORLD
Scientists hope corrosion research prevents another Flint, Mich.

Armed guards at India dams as drought leaves farmers dry

In Chile, world's driest desert slakes thirst with fog

River food webs threatened by widespread hydropower practice

WATER WORLD
Extreme weather linked to high pressure over Greenland

Researchers discover fate of melting glacial ice in Greenland

Ancient tectonic activity was trigger for ice ages

New maps chart Greenland glaciers' melting risk

WATER WORLD
Crop advances grow with protection

Bacteria beneficial to plants have spread across California

Australian researchers map micronutrients in white rice

Chinese-led group pulls bid for Australian cattle empire

WATER WORLD
Survivor rescued 13 days after deadly Ecuador quake

Survivors sought after 10 killed in Kenya building collapse

Chile ordered to pay $2.7 mn to 2010 tsunami victims

Seismologists ask: How close are we to an eruption?

WATER WORLD
Kenya torches world's biggest ivory bonfire to save elephants

Senegal signs accord giving US forces permament access to the country

Mozambique police probe reports of mass grave in rebel stronghold

Kenya's mega ivory piles 'will burn even if it snows'

WATER WORLD
Hominins may have been food for carnivores 500,000 years ago

Neandertals and Upper Paleolithic Homo sapiens had different dietary strategies

Chimp study explores the early origins of human hand dexterity

Toward quieting the brain




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement